The Equipment Insider

Titleist's Tour Speed fills golf ball gap

Titleist has long been known for its Tour-caliber golf balls, but until recently the company never had a "next best" offering in its arsenal. Titleist hopes the Tour Speed ball addresses that issue

A great number of golfers believe they either aren’t good enough to play Tour-caliber balls or don’t want to pay premium prices. Instead, many of them gravitate to the “next best” and, until now, Titleist didn’t have a ball in its line that addressed that segment of the market for which its competitors are fighting over.

Titleist had a big gap between the Pro V1, Pro V1x and AVX — the premium balls — and the Tour Soft, a lower compression ball that doesn’t offer premium performance. So, it’s in that gap where Titleist’s new Tour Speed fits. With a new urethane formulation for the ball’s cover, the Tour Speed is designed to get closer to Tour performance at a lower price point.

Titleist is using Tour Speed to target Callaway’s Chrome Soft, Bridgestone’s B RX, TaylorMade’s Tour Response and Srixon’s Z-Star and Q-Star Tour.

In fall 2019, the company test marketed an experimental ball, EXP-01, that is now known as Tour Speed. It featured thermoplastic urethane injected in a mold. Titleist’s premium balls use cast urethane, which is the most expensive but produces the most performance.

Titleist — Tour Speed Golf Ball — Landscape
Titleist's introduction of its Tour Speed helps the brand fill a gap between its high- and low-end golf ball offerings in terms of performance and price.

“We worked hard for more than three years to get to the point where we felt good about (the thermoplastic urethane),” said Michael Fish, product manager for Titleist’s ball division. “Cast urethane technology we truly believe it’s the best cover technology in the world. It’s validated by players on the professional tours, validated by amateurs.

“We like to think of (thermoplastic urethane) as better than ionomer with better spin around the greens. Cast is going to be more durable and shear resistant and will provide better short game spin, especially in the 30-yard shot that is so important to golfers.”

Golfers who purchased EXP-01 were asked to complete a survey and Fish said that 80 percent of the respondents said they would play it again, either as the ball they would buy most often or would play it at least part of the time. The Tour Soft users were the most likely to buy EXP-01 again, while, according to Fish, Bridgestone and Chrome Soft users said they were highly likely to buy it again or replace their ball of choice with the EXP-01.

Titleist engineers made some changes to the EXP-01 before finding the right formula for Tour Speed.

“We retained the high speed, low spin attributes of the core and we made an improvement to the cover formulation, a higher quality and a better look to the ball,” Fish said. “We improved the dimple pattern for a better flight. They were changes that we didn’t necessarily have to make but we thought it would make the ball incrementally better.”

Titleist — Tour Speed Golf Ball Core
Titleist's Tour Speed golf ball features a proprietary thermoplastic urethane cover that aids in creating more spin and better control on shots hit around the green.

At Titleist’s Manchester Lane test facility in Massachusetts, the company built a 100-yard green to conduct extensive short game testing. For the Tour Speed, Titleist brought in 55 amateurs from scratch to 10-handicap over the course of two weeks.

Fitters spent about 90 minutes with each player in a blind test of Pro V1, AVX, Chrome Soft, Bridgestone B and Tour Speed under a number of different conditions. Fish said that Pro V1 and AVX were the most preferred but Tour Speed had an edge over the competition most of the time.

Titleist also tested the ball in the 140-150 mph range for driver ball speed, which is where the target player for Tour Speed lies, and Fish said Tour Speed is 4-5 yards longer than the competition.

Retailing at $39.99 a dozen, Tour Speed fits between AVX and Tour Soft both in price and performance. Which is just where Titleist wants it.

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